Trial under way in athlete's slaying
Man accused of killing student in drug-related robbery

LAWRENCEVILLE - Kenneth Brett Cunningham - described as a bright kid and athlete at Central Gwinnett High School - warned medics he was "hurt bad" moments before he died on his parents' porch last year.

Authorities divulged that and other details surrounding the 17-year-old's death during opening testimony Tuesday in the murder trial of Cleondre Lamarr Lacey.

Lacey, 20, is accused of killing Cunningham - and shooting his friend, Paul Theodore Mayhew, who survived - during a drug-related robbery last March. The shootings happened at Cunningham's parents' home on Sundale Drive in Lawrenceville.

Lacey faces multiple charges, including murder, aggravated assault and weapons possession during a crime. On Tuesday he wore short hair, a mustache and a striped, blue-gray dress shirt. He fell asleep repeatedly during testimony.

He faces life in prison if convicted.

Lt. Art Rivera, a Gwinnett fire paramedic, testified he found Mayhew in the home's front yard bleeding on the evening of March 17. Inside the home, he discovered Cunningham on his back in a bathroom, drenched in blood.

"I said, 'Hey, are you okay?'" Rivera said. "He said, 'I'm hurt bad.'"

Rivera said he dragged the teen to the front porch to administer life support techniques, but Cunningham stopped breathing.

One investigator's testimony Tuesday indicated Cunningham may have died during a botched drug deal.

Beth Smith, a Gwinnett police crime scene technician, told jurors two scales commonly used to weigh drugs were found in the bedroom where the victims were shot. Investigators found a small tin box with what appeared to be marijuana and a pipe in a neighboring bedroom, Smith said.

Police recovered three shell casings at the scene but only one bullet.

Lacey's alleged getaway driver is expected to testify later this week.

Police believe Stephanie Brianna Buskey, 21, drove the accused shooter to the Lawrenceville home to steal marijuana. Prosecutors dropped murder charges against Buskey last month - sparing her from a potential life sentence - in exchange for her firsthand testimony of the shootings.

Buskey has pleaded guilty to drug and robbery charges. Superior Court Judge Tom Davis deferred her sentencing until the murder trial concludes.

Both her and Lacey have remained without bond at the Gwinnett County Jail since last March.

Cunningham's friends said last year he knew Lacey. Friends held a vigil for Cunningham at a Lawrenceville church March 20 - the day after Lacey was arrested and charged with killing him.

Cunningham lettered in football and wrestling at Central. He was voted "most mellow" by his senior class, a friend said last year. He was enrolled at the school until roughly a week before his death, a family spokesperson said.

Testimony is expected to resume at 9 a.m. today.